Thursday 18 January 2018

Homelessness service plan for soup kitchen

Hubert Murphy

Founder of the Drogheda Soup Kitchen, Mark O'Neill, is planning to expand the services at the facility at Sunday's Gate to cater for homeless people and those impacted by addiction.

He's planning to introduce the 'pop in' service once a week from 10.30am to 12.30pm, following a successful pilot programme in their centre in Navan.

'It will deal with issues such as homelessness and how people can be assisted as well as addiction, drink and drugs, and what's out there for people and families.

'I'm hoping to get SOSAD and the Simon Community involved as well,' he explained.

Marking the second anniversary of the soup kitchen, he says he has come across a lot of issues in the Drogheda region.

'Some people do say, why are we doing this. 20 years ago I might have questioned it too, but as you go through life you see different situations, and in my circumstances, deal with some situations, and only then does the penny drop.

'I would not like my son or daughter to be in that situation, with no-one there to help them, but that's why we do what we do and I know not everyone will agree with it.

'We want to not only feed the people but address issues as well. Surely it's everyone's right to have a hot meal or two each day, a roof over their heads and a little bit of happiness,' Mark added.

He says that in the past two years the service in Drogheda has given out over 175,000 hot meals and approx 16,500 food hampers.

He has also issued an open invitation to the older residents of Drogheda to drop in at any time to the centre.

'Members of the older generation can be struggling with funds or the cost of heating and food.

'We want them to use here as a restaurant. Come in and get an Irish breakfast or cereal, a dinner or a sandwich and soup and it's free,' he adds.

And perhaps the biggest thing they are more than anxious to promote is the fact that the volunteers are always ready to listen and chat - about anything!

'There's always four or five people about to talk and they get to know those coming in.'

The centre is also available for a food parcel service for those that might not want to visit.

'We have a mobile number, 0858811112 and people can just ring and we'll help them out,' Mark continued.

Drogheda Independent

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